There is some good news in Afghanistan following a report of a temporary ceasefire between the U.S. and the Taliban. Details are still being figured out but it appears to be for at least ten days so a final agreement can be completely hammered out. Associated Press cited ‘sources’ in their report on the ceasefire because no one was authorized to talk about it.
The U.S. wants any deal to include a promise from the Taliban that Afghanistan would not be used as a base by terrorist groups. The U.S. currently has an estimated 12,000 troops in Afghanistan.
The Taliban chief must approve the cease-fire decision but that was expected. The duration of the cease-fire was not specified but it was suggested it would last for 10 days. It was also not specified when the cease-fire would begin.
The news is a bit of a surprise because of multiple attacks involving the United States military and the Taliban. A U.S. soldier was killed this month in Kunduz with the Taliban and the Pentagon sending out different explanations on his death. The U.S. and Afghanistan National Forces took out 13 Taliban fighters on Sunday while 17 Afghani militia fighters died in a Taliban-led attack. There’s still work to be done on keeping further violence from breaking out.
Another question is the future of the thousands of American military members in Afghanistan. Will the U.S. pull all troops out of Afghanistan or keep several thousand stationed at a military base in Kabul?
President Donald Trump said back in August he favored the latter strategy which isn’t exactly getting out of the country, even if the long war comes to an ‘official’ end. This would put the U.S. in a similar situation as they are in Iraq where there’s no war but plenty of troop presence. Which isn’t exactly the best for those who want to take soldiers out of danger and reduce the massive amount of spending emanating from Washington.
Those are just the first steps, however, in even bigger talks between the Taliban and the Afghanistan government on what the country will look like in the future. The current government is a bit more liberal than the Taliban, meaning it’s doubtful the latter will be happy with the tiny amount of rights women currently possess. It would be wise for the current government to not back down during negotiations. AP also noted the fact warlords in the country have plenty of power and it’s doubtful they’d want to cede any back to the Taliban.
It’s a step in the right direction even if it’s doubtful these negotiations are going to be tied up with a nice bow within ten days. The Afghanistan War has gone on too long with no end in sight. The fact a ceasefire appears to be in the future is no small feat. But that’s if it’s true, of course, as no one outside of the Associated Press is reporting the ceasefire. It could be their sources are wrong and a deal is close but not finalized. This is the danger of looking to be ‘first’ in reporting breaking news because it can turn out to be wrong.
It’s a well-deserved victory for the Trump Administration if it turns out a ceasefire is in place. Trump is more of a hawk than non-interventionists would prefer, and there’s always the fear he’ll exchange one war for another (see Iran), but this push for possible peace in Afghanistan is laudable. Hopefully, the Associated Press report is correct and there is a ceasefire that holds long enough for a permanent agreement to be put in place. One which protects the small batches of freedom currently in place in Afghanistan, and, more importantly, brings all the troops home.